AMY SILLMAN (b. 1956)
Amy Sillman is an American painter. Her artistic practice also includes drawings, cartoons, collage, iPhone video, and zines. She lives with her dog Omar in Brooklyn, where she also maintains a studio. Sillman is Co-chair, Painting at the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College.
Sillman began studying and working in painting in the mid 1970s. Her influences include the New York School (art), Abstract expressionism, and Willem de Kooning and Philip Guston in particular. Sillman does not consider herself an Abstract Expressionist, stating, "I wanted to learn about both Abstract Expressionism and the critique of easel painting—not because I wanted to emulate them, but because I didn’t like them."
Sillman's work is both abstract and representational, incorporating elements such as figuration, collage, and diagrammatic shapes. In a 2006 Artforum article, Jan Avgikos wrote that Sillman’s paintings “mine the edges of abstraction, meshing patches of color with bursts of chaotic line and web-like compositional scaffolding.” Her layered works often include humor, visual jokes, cartoons, psychological elements, and feminist critique.
In a The New York Times review of Sillman’s 2006 exhibition at Sikkema Jenkins & Co., Ken Johnson wrote, “The paintings are especially gratifying up close, where you can study the richly complicated textures and colors...” In 2007 Sillman completed four etchings at Crown Point Press, and of this experience, she has said, “Everything that is done in my painting was taken apart layer by layer in printmaking. You take one hundred layers apart and figure out which six will work.” According to art historian and curator Helen Molesworth, "Sillman's oeuvre is marked by radical shifts--in palette, brushwork, scale, and the degree to which a work is structured by the logic of either drawing or painting."
In a 2007 article in Artforum, Linda Norden wrote of Sillman’s “fearless, tenacious pursuit of a painting that might accurately register the discomfort, incoherence, and absurdity that can characterize painterly experience—and experience in general,” and speaks of “her increasingly influential place among younger painters in both New York and Los Angeles, where she regularly shows, and her growing currency even among contingents of European painters.” Art critic Roberta Smith compared Sillman to similar women painters such as Elena Sisto, Margaret Curtis, and Sue Williams.
Sillman lives in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and maintains a studio in Bushwick. Since 2015 she has worked at Städelschule in Frankfurt am Main as a professor of painting.